26: Why do C and G come in hard and soft versions? Palatalization

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Nov 16 2018 34 mins   1.1k
A letter stands for a sound. Or at least, it’s supposed to. Most of the time. Unless it’s C or G, which each stand for two different sounds in a whole bunch of languages. C can be soft, as in circus or acacia, or hard, as in the other C in circus or acacia. G can be hard, as in gif, or soft, as in gif. Why can C and G be hard or soft? And why don’t other letters come in hard and soft versions? In this episode of the podcast that’s enthusiastic about linguistics, your hosts Lauren Gawne and Gretchen McCulloch get enthusiastic about the group of sounds that are pronounced with the back part of the roof of your mouth, aka the palate. When one sound in a word is produced at the palate, it tends to pull neighbouring sounds towards the palate as well, and this palatal attraction explains so many weird mismatches of sound and spelling. Why can C and G be hard and soft? Why do T and D sometimes get different pronunciations as well, as in nation and didja? Why are Irish and Scottish Gaelic names spelled that way? Why is it so hard to spell the clipped forms of “usual” and “casual”? How are cheese and cacio e pepe and queso and Käse all related? This month’s bonus episode was about how to have fun at (or just survive) academic conferences. Whether you’re new to academic conferences, or have never been to one and want to know how they’re different from other large gatherings like conventions, this episode has all the info! Support Lingthusiasm on Patreon to gain access to this and 20 previous bonus episodes: https://www.patreon.com/lingthusiasm This is also our anniversary episode! Whether you’ve been with us for the whole two years or you’ve joined us more recently, we’re glad you’re here. Thank you to everyone who has helped bring the show to more language fans in honour of our anniversary. There’s still a bit of time to get your name on the special thank you post and help more people get a fun language thing in their ears by recommending Lingthusiasm on social media before the end of the month. For links to everything mentioned in this episode visit https://lingthusiasm.com/post/180153994181/lingthusiasm-episode-26-why-do-c-and-g-come-in